Republicans expand House majority

For the first time since seizing the House in 1994, Republicans Tuesday expanded their majority in the midterm elections by successfully defending their incumbents, picking up most open seats and winning three of four incumbent-versus-incumbent matchups.

Republicans have won at least 227 House seats, a net increase of at least four seats that defies a historical trend that the party in the White House loses seats in the midterm elections.

National Republican Congressional Committee Chairman Tom Davis of Virginia credited the victories to the White House's commitment to GOP candidates, voter turnout and the ability to blunt Democratic attacks on Social Security.

"This election is historic not only because Republicans were able to defy midterm losses, but because it signals a completion of the Republican consensus begun in 1994," Davis said in a memo Wednesday.

Republicans defeated Democratic Reps. Karen Thurman of Florida and William Luther of Minnesota, while Democrats ousted Rep. Constance Morella of Maryland. Rep. Felix Grucci, R-N.Y., also appeared headed to defeat as he trailed Democrat Timothy Bishop by about 2,500 votes.

Republicans won three of the nation's four House contests between incumbent Republicans and Democrats. GOP Rep. Nancy Johnson defeated Democratic Rep. James Maloney in Connecticut's 5th District, GOP Rep. John Shimkus ousted Democratic Rep. David Phelps in Illinois' 18th District and GOP Rep. Charles (Chip) Pickering beat Democratic Rep. Ronnie Shows in Mississippi's 3rd District. In Pennsylvania's 17th District, Democratic Rep. Tim Holden defeated GOP Rep. George Gekas by nearly 6,000 votes.

Early returns showing the re-election of Rep. Anne Northup, R-Ky., provided the first sign Republicans would prevail in close races. Iowa's three targeted Republicans all won re-election despite a Democratic offensive against GOP Reps. Jim Nussle, Jim Leach and Tom Latham.

Georgia Democrats, who controlled redistricting, clinched one of the four net seats they had hoped to gain. Republicans picked up Georgia's 11th and 12th districts, while Democrat Jim Marshall held a 1,400-vote lead over Republican Calder Clay in the revamped 3rd District.

Maryland proved to be one of the few bright spots for House Democrats, who defeated Morella and picked up the open seat of GOP Rep. Robert Ehrlich, who was elected governor.

Louisiana's open 5th District contest is headed to a Dec. 7 runoff as none of the seven candidates won a majority. Democratic state Rep. Rodney Alexander finished first with 29 percent. The second runoff slot will go to Republican Lee Fletcher if he holds his 2,700-vote lead over former GOP Rep. Clyde Holloway.

Democrats won the seat of the late Rep. Patsy Mink, D-Hawaii, which will force a Jan. 4 special election. Mink posthumously triumphed over state Rep. Bob McDermott, 56-46 percent.

In Colorado's new 7th District, Republican Bob Beauprez held a 2,200-vote lead over Democrat Mike Feeley. Republican Rick Renzi appeared to have won Arizona's new 1st District, leading Democrat George Cordova by more than 11,000 votes.

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